In The Futurological Congress, one of Stanisław Lem’s most acclaimed and brilliant science fiction novels, he describes an international convention, where papers are too numerous and time is too short for presenters to do more than call out some numbers within a few seconds. This one scene not only stands for the black humor of the entire novel, but also is an allusion to the overwhelming time pressure that science suffers. If we were to present a paper at that congress on the results and accomplishments of the URPP Asia and Europe in 2015, we would probably use our few seconds to yell “fifteen, eleven, 111.”
What complex reality and hard work is hidden behind these three numbers? First, the number fifteen summarizes all of our academic activities. During the year 2015, the URPP, together with its national and international cooperation partners, organized three international conferences, five international workshops, two lecture series, two panel discussions, one theater performance, one internal research retreat, and invited one visiting scholar to Zurich (Dr. Pablo Blitstein, University of Heidelberg).
Second, eleven is the number of research projects for which members of the URPP successfully procured additional third-party-funding in 2015. These funded projects include one Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship from the European Research Council (ERC) for Dr. Melek Saral; three research grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) for both Prof. Bettina Dennerlein and Dr. Aymon Kreil, Prof. Annuska Derks, and Prof. Sandro Zanetti; one seed money grant from the Indo-Swiss Joint Research Program in the Social Sciences for Prof. Johannes Quark; two project grants from the Swiss Bilateral Research Program of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation for Prof. Annuska Derks and Prof. Johannes Quark; fellowships from the SNSF for Dr. Julia Obinger and Ayaka Löschke; and two research fellowships from the University of Zurich for Ulrich Brandenburg and Tobias Weiss. We gladly congratulate all of them on their successful applications.
Third, if we sought to quantify the scientific output of the URPP, we might come up with the number 111, which stands for scientific publications and qualification works in 2015. First and foremost, it is with great pleasure that we highlight the successful conclusion of two habilitations and five PhD theses. Prof. Fabian Schäfer (former senior scholar and lecturer at the URPP and, since September 2013, Professor in Japanese studies at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg) completed his habilitation review in December 2015, and Dr. Marco Vitale (former doctoral student at the URPP) completed his in March 2016. Each of them completed their habilitation at the University of Zurich. We also congratulate Patrick Brozzo (Law), Aliya Khawari (Political Sciences), Rita Krajnc (Indian Studies), Linda Maduz (Political Sciences) and Miriam Wenner (Geography) for successfully defending their PhD theses in 2015, and we wish them all the best in their future careers. We are also pleased to congratulate Dr. Justyna Jaguścik, who has been granted the Annual Award 2015 of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences for her dissertation, which she has been writing at the URPP. Moreover, the number 111 stands also for scientific output in the form of 104 scientific publications thematically relevant to the URPP by its participating professors and by researchers.
Beyond our three numbers, we welcome Prof. Martin Dusinberre (Global History) and Prof. Nicolas Martin (Modern India / South East Asian Studies) as new participating professors at the URPP. Immediately after joining, Martin Dusinberre was generous enough to perform the keynote speech for 2015 at our annual internal retreat. We look forward to new ideas and impulses these new members will bring to the URPP in the years to come.
In this time of rapid global and local change in and between Asia and Europe, we are convinced that an organization such as the URPP is as relevant and urgently need as it was when it was established back in 2006. For more information about the URPP, we invite our readers to consult the continuously updated URPP website.
Overall, given that the URPP has entered its final phase and that, since 2014, its budget has decreased by a third of its former total, we nonetheless look back on a highly dynamic and engaged 2015 full of achievements and events, teaching, learning and research. As academic directors, we thank all URPP members and our wonderful staff for their commitments, dedication, and sustained engagement and support. We now look forward to an equally successful and fruitful academic year in 2016.
Prof. Dr. David Chiavacci and Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch
(Asia & Europe Bulletin, 5/2016, p. 3)